Look Back to Move Ahead

Every summer, my family would spend a week in New Mexico. It was a long drive but oh so worth it. My favorite moment, of course, was when we arrived at the cabin, but this glorious moment was rivaled by another. I slept during the majority of those drives, but I always made sure to stay awake as we entered the magical place where the mountains peeked over the horizon. I loved looking ahead, off into the distance, dreaming about what the week would hold. We are all experts at looking ahead. We fill our calendars for months in advance and schedule frequent meetings to plan the next season. We love to dream dreams and envision possibilities. There is certainly purpose in the planning. Scripture speaks to it in Proverbs 21:5. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.” And we know that vision for what God is doing is necessary based on Proverbs 29:18. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Our God places in us, the excitement of what is ahead. However, we mustn’t forget to look back.

Deuteronomy is one of my favorite places to park in scripture. Over the years, as I have journeyed through the pages with the Israelites, it struck me how often Moses tells the wanderers to remember.

Deuteronomy 4:9-10Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.’”

Deuteronomy 5:15Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”

Deuteronomy 7:17-19You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.”

Deuteronomy 8:1-3Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 9:6-8 “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people. Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord. At Horeb you aroused theLord’s wrath so that he was angry enough to destroy you.”

Deuteronomy 11:2,7-8 “Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm…But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done. Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

Deuteronomy 24:17-19 “Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

Did you notice any patterns in those verses? The remembering is never about the remembering. Rather, the intentionality of not forgetting where God has taken us is always meant to lead to a response.

  • Remember and teach your children to revere The Lord.
  • Remember and rest.
  • Remember and do not fear.
  • Remember and trust God.
  • Remember and do not claim your own righteousness.
  • Remember and let it lead to obedience.
  • Remember and give grace as it has been given to you.

Our present faith and future action is directly related to our remembering. Even the legacy we leave has to be not only about what we do today, but even more so, about what God has done already.

In Psalm 77 and Psalm 105, the writer takes time to list out what God has done. He says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord,” and then he begins to list them. I desire to make that a habit in my own life. I challenge you to to do some remembering as well. Specifically, I encourage you to consider the season prior to the one in which you are currently walking. Think of two specific acts of the Lord and what impact those two moments have had on your present faith.

If you feel so inclined, I’d love for you to share your rememberings with us. Leave a comment and let us know how your past wanderings with God have led to greater faith in this season of your life.

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